If you come to Falmouth often, you’ll become aware of the many shops. What stands out most to me, are not what the shops offer but who run them. They become part of the town’s character and those who are friendly, add to its charm. As you make your way from the ‘old’ High Street of Falmouth town, you will pass a women’s eccentric clothing shop specialising in retro style dresses and quirky heels. ‘Just Like This’ is run by an incredibly friendly and flame-haired woman named Jane. I interviewed her in the past for an article about men’s fashion in Falmouth. So I had this idea to design a type of photo-strip running along the old high street to the ‘new’ one which runs down Market Street, Church Street and Arwaneck Street photographing the shop owners who stand out. Further examples include the women who run The Strand (a local cafe), the Key shop man, the incredibly friendly woman in Boots, Falmouth Bookseller’s owner, Dolly at Dolly’s Tea Room, the couple who run the jewelery shop opposite…and the list goes on.
I’m wary of this idea though. It seems samey and similar to my first idea. I’m going to branch out a bit more out of Falmouth though and realised that although this would be a fun project to do, it wouldn’t stand out very much.
I’ve been looking at this photographer for some inspiration. And albeit The Sartorialist is primarily a fashion photographer, he still manages to capture people in such a way that we take in everything within the frame.
“Founder/blogger/photographer Scott Schuman began The Sartorialist with the idea of creating a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life.” (quoted from Schuman’s biography on his blog)
He blurs the lines of fashion photography and photojournalism in my opinion because some of his subjects are just passers-by, unknown are their names and backgrounds, and others he interviews. I wonder if this is because some just do not have the time and others do or does he pick which people he wishes his audience to learn more about? This potential practice is something I’d like to test-drive. It could easily benefit my search for a subject and/or story to liven up my logbook and overall project.
I’ve had other ideas too, for example I was looking in to the work of UK based photographer Dana Popa from Romania. She completed the MA Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at London College of Communication and her interests include contemporary social issues, with a particular emphasis on human rights. Dana has been working mostly in Eastern Europe and the UK. She has some truly moving and memorable images that you can look at here: http://danapopa.com/
Bare in mind, exhibitions such as ‘not Natasha’ are quite upsetting and highlight the deeply horrific life of women trapped in the sex trade.
Albeit unearthing stories like this in Cornwall would draw attention and shine light on the unknown, if there are cases like this here that is (hoping there isn’t), I doubt I would have the skill nor do I possess the experience to handle a story similar to those of the women she photographed. But it did bring me back to another thought, there was a homeless man who I wrote about previously on this blog. He had a harrowing tale and spoke to me openly. (You can read the blog post here).
I talked this idea through with my tutor for the module and we discussed the pros and cons of making him my subject.
-It’d make a harrowing story, readers/ my audience would be intrigued.
-He has a lot of interesting features i.e. his tattoo of a panther on the back of his hand, his rucksack full of his belongings, his injuries and his ‘homes’ (places to stay).
-Could be an interesting thing to follow-up.
-Unaware of his stability, if he doesn’t have a support group he may become depressed if the photos become popular.
-He may see you as a friend, hard to remain just as a project, he may want constant contact. Are you willing to do that?
-The story may highlight his situation, he may become targeted.
-You have no experience dealing with people in a vulnerable situation.
After creating the list of pros and cons you can see how I am thinking less and less about following up this story. If you have a look at the blog post written about him, I feel that this highlights what an open yet damaged person he is. And I feel like the ‘coverage’ I’ve already provided on this anonymous man is enough and can cause no further harm to him.
After looking at Dana Popa’s other work as well i.e. the Landmarks exhibition found here
it has led me on to ideas based around the inanimate surroundings rather than focus on another human subject. Dana’s exploration of
Alf Kebbell’s London how he metaphorically sees it through his unseeing eyes with use of landmarks.
‘Alf Kebbell is blind. He uses a cane, though in Elephant & Castle he does not need one to find his way around. He has been taking the same routes for 24 years, relying on specific landmarks. This is an emotional journey experienced in a repetitive way by the real performer. I (Dana Sopa) recreated the space Alf navigates through every day, portraying his landmarks at the moment of his passing by. Without them, Alf would be completely lost.’
The landmarks that Alf can identify are done so by feeling and amounts of light. The thought of the photographer taking this man out for a walk for him to describe them to her and for her to capture them for us to see, we can imagine what it must be like to walk the route Alf does. It’s as if she’s put us in his shoes, guiding us step by step and also giving us the advantage of seeing. But you get this feeling that Alf can see the landmarks and the world itself just as we do, he just has to take the time to really get to know the place…something we all should do wherever we go. We, like Alf, can learn then to appreciate dips in the pavement know they help to guide others and a part of people’s everyday route.
Branching out from that, I wondered if there were little mini-landmarks in places around Cornwall that other people feel make their journey to work, the park or walk home what it is and provide little symbols that you’re nearly there, you’ve almost reached your destination.
Let me know what you think, I’d love to continue researching these ideas for the right one to jump out.